Arsenal defeated bottom of the table Reading 5-2 at the Madejski Stadium last night.
Quite frankly it could have been far worse for the Royals, as the Gunners were in first gear for most of the second half.
The undoubted star of the show was Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla.
The Spaniard put in a virtuoso display in the centre of the park. He orchestrated the whole game from his position in midfield.
He scored a hat-trick and setup Theo Walcott for the fifth goal. It could have been even better, as a fierce strike was saved by Reading keeper Adam Federici. Cazorla has been one of the signings of the Premier League season.
Cazorla is just one of a long-line of outstanding players that Spanish football has produced in recent years. As a fan of La Liga I have watched Cazorla quite a bit in recent years, but never realised just how much ability he has.
Arsenal started with Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as their front three and it looked like a winning formula. Walcott always looked dangerous with his pace and work rate.
Podolski was powerful and always willing. Chamberlain was probably the quietest of the trio on the night, but still looked comfortable in possession and always seemed available for the ball.
The combination worked really well and maybe it’s the future for the Arsenal strike force. Walcott always looks dangerous as a central striker and was on the score sheet again last night.
The England international is allegedly stalling on signing a new deal with the club because he wants to play as a central striker. Well if I was Arsene Wenger I would tell Walcott that he will be playing as a central striker from now on.
He is a threat playing winger, but his crossing is woeful and his finishing ability is wasted out-wide. The youngster hasn’t fulfilled his potential in North London, because he has spent much of his time at the club playing as a winger. Maybe he can as a striker.
Arsenal may have played well last night, but Reading allowed them to because they were simply woeful in most departments of the pitch. The Royals allowed Arsenal far too much time on the ball and if you do that the Gunners have the players that will punish you.
The home side’s deficiencies were horribly exposed last night, as they were given a football lesson. Brian McDermott’s side did score two goals in the second half, but that owed a lot to Arsenal being far too casual in defence and taking their foot off the gas in the second period.
It’s not going forward that is Reading’s problem anyway. They look like they can cause most teams in the league problems going forward; it’s their terrible defensive displays that could cost them their place amongst the elite.
Reading are now bottom and look like a side heading for a quick return to the Championship. The Royals are now six points from safety and if they carry on defending like that could be in for more battering’s this season.
The Berkshire club did really well to get up into the Premier League last season and the fans should enjoy this season. Reading have shown spirit at times this season in games, but it just looks like they lack that extra bit of quality needed to stay in the top flight.
The fixtures don’t get any easier for the Royals, as they face a trip to champions Manchester City in their next Premier League game. I really fear for the Royals at the Etihad Stadium.
Last night’s victory was a much needed one for Arsenal and their beleaguered boss Arsene Wenger. Questions were being asked about the Frenchman’s ability to move the Gunners forward and whether he should be sacked after the humiliating Capitol One Cup defeat at Bradford.
This result may not have cured all the Arsenal ills, but it may be the start of a decent run of results for Arsenal, which the club and Arsene Wenger in particular were in desperate need of.
The Gunners travel to the North West to face Wigan at the weekend and they will be expected to produce another convincing performance. Arsenal have slipped-up in these sorts of games in the past, this time they can’t afford to, despite the comfortable victory over Reading.
Have Arsenal found an answer to their attacking conundrum?